Olivia Matthews: Hard Dough Homicide

Spice Isle Bakery #2

Hard Dough Homicide is the second book by Olivia Matthews, and it follows Lindsay Murray and family at their Caribbean themed restaurant, Spice Island Bakery. When Lindsay’s mother quit her old job at the local school to focus on the bakery she thought, and hoped, her interactions with her old boss were behind her. Principal Emily Smith was a nasty piece of work who was demeaning and abusive to her employees and extremely self-centered. Yet when she decides to retire, she wants her celebration dinner held at the Spice Island Bakery. At first the Murray family wants nothing to do with it, but the money is literally too good to refuse, and they decide to take a chance. Turns out the guests are just as uncomfortable with things as the Murray family, and things go from tense to downright disastrous when Emily dies shortly after the meal begins.

Local police detective Bryce Jackson and his partner Stan investigate, but seem reluctant to do so because of both their love of the Spice Island Bakery food and their fondness for the family themselves. Unfortunately, the police and the Murrays are a bit at odds since they had previously had Lindsay in the spotlight as a suspect in another murder. Lindsey has not forgotten what that felt like, and while some of the family seem open to healing, she still needs a bit more time and work. Despite his personal feelings, however, Bryce must do his due diligence in his investigation, which ends up placing her mother into the suspect pool. This does not sit well with the Murray family, especially Lindsey.

Frustrated, angry, and scared for her mother, Lindsey decides that she must take matters into her own hands. Her family, especially her grandmother, are ready to lend a hand wherever and however they can. As if the murder itself isn’t enough pressure, the bakery is also facing another threat in the arena of public opinion — a poisoning in a restaurant tends to put people off. Given the Murrays strong cultural identity and desire to be a part of their community that shares in that identity, this opinion hurts their family on more than just a professional level. Feeling pressure both professionally and personally only steels Lindsay’s resolve to find answers, and she is more than willing to share what she finds with Bryce. However, when they don’t move as quickly as she would like on said information, she goes after the answers herself.

Lindsay is a fiercely determined and protective woman, dedicated to her family and her restaurant. While investigation isn’t something she seems to want to do on a regular basis, she will not shy away from it to save those dearest to her. Hard Dough Homicide will have readers on the edge of their seats, sharing in Lindsay’s triumphs as well as her anxieties. I recommend Hard Dough Homicide for anyone who is looking for a cozy that has a quick pace and a strong family theme. The Murrays are a very strong family and are determined to protect each other and their business in the face of any adversity. Their identity as a Caribbean family-owned restaurant is something they are very proud of, and they are determined to keep their place in their community. Fair warning, after finishing Hard Dough Homicide, readers will be ready for the next book and eager to read the first.  I ordered it immediately after finishing this book!            – Carla Schantz


Carla Schantz is a Courthouse Clerk Supervisor and has a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a master’s in legal studies. Books have been a passion of hers since she was young, and she is a firm believer in the purse book so that she is never without a book at any time.